The next time you are in the grocery store, take a look at the "soaps.' What you, I am sure, will find is that the term "soap" is less likely to be found on the packaging of commercial products sold in stores. Commercial soap sold in stores are often made with chemical detergents, hardeners and synthetic lathering agents. Some of these ingredients can be very drying or irritating to the skin.
The FDA interprets the term "soap" to apply only when:
The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consist of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the products detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds and
The product is labeled, sold, and represented as solely soap ( any product that is marketed as a "moisturizing bar" is considered a cosmetic and not soap)
Handmade soaps, made with natural oils, liquids, and lye do not contain these harsh chemicals and therefore qualify as "soap." Handmade soap also contains glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture from the air to the skin. It’s produced naturally during the soapmaking process. It’s one of the things that make handmade soap so amazing! Some commercial soaps remove the glycerin from the bars and sell it to make lotions and creams. Without glycerin, commercially prepared soap isn’t nearly as skin loving, and can leave the skin feeling dry.
Now I often get the question, “Isn’t homemade soap made with lye? I don’t want to put lye on my skin.” I completely agree! I certainly don’t want to put lye on my skin either. =) However, you will be happy to know that when calculated correctly, there is no lye leftover in handmade soap. Once the lye and oils emulsify and combine, the saponification process begins. This process turns the lye and oil into soap. In the final bar, no lye actually comes into contact with your skin because there is no lye in the bar – it’s now soap!
FInaly, handmade soap just feels better! Handmade soap preserves the integrity of the oils/fats/butters. Coconut oil goes in, saponified (made into soap) coconut oil comes out. Shea butter goes in, shea butter comes out. Because of this, the oils/fats/butters maintain their vitamins, minerals and skin-loving qualities in the final soap product.